When Dani Martinez came to the United States from Mexico at the age of 6, he didn’t know much about the country, the language or the people.
“All I knew was that I loved football,” he recently told Mount Prospect Village Council. “And as I grew up, I kept looking for places to play, and my parents would often take the time to drive me, 15 or 30 minutes sometimes, to the nearest park to play. Many times we would show up and find each other. the fields locked or the goals chained, or even on certain occasions summoned to go down.”
Now, two decades later, the 26-year-old Mount Prospect resident and youth pastor hopes to make sure other football-loving kids don’t have the same experience.
His goal is to create a 4,500 square foot mini soccer field south of the community garden at Euclid Elementary School, 711 E. Euclid Ave.
Martinez said he saw himself, aged 6, when he looked out his apartment window and saw children playing football in tiny alleys, parking lots and on school grass, using cones to score goals.
“There’s a passion for sports in this community. But there’s not always room for it,” said Martinez, youth pastor at Bridge Community Church’s Randhurst campus.
He teamed up with staff at Euclid School to apply for approximately $150,000 in community development block grants to the village.
The village council backed the request last week, subject to approval by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The location is in the middle of a mixed-income and ethnically diverse neighborhood.
“It would be a safe space,” Martinez said. “And that would be a community builder.”
The field would measure 90 by 50 feet and have artificial turf and rebound boards.
The smaller size helps young players develop their skills.
“As opposed to a full-size pitch, you see the ball a lot more than you would if you were playing 11,” he said of the pitch, which he hopes to have installed by next summer. .
Euclid principal Karen Daly said the River Trails Elementary School District 26 board is excited about the project, but is waiting to hear more about Mount Prospect’s decision on the grant application before proceeding with the project. conversation.
Administrator Michael Zadel said he knows about the activities in and around the school – he has a grandson who attended Euclid.
“Certainly it’s a focal point for a lot of kids in this community and families,” Zadel said. “Moms and dads go with the kids.”
Administrator Richard Rogers underlined the proximity of the project to the Buis district.
“It’s something that is desperately needed in the region,” he said. “The Buis area has been a problem area for many, many years. It’s being cleaned up now. It’s becoming where people want to live instead of having to live.”